Herschel Space Observatory: An ESA facility for far-infrared and submillimetre astronomy
Publication date: 17 July 2010
Authors: Pilbratt, G.L., et al.
Journal: Astronomy & Astrophysics
Herschel was launched on 14 May 2009, and is now an operational ESA space observatory offering unprecedented observational capabilities in the far-infrared and submillimetre spectral range 55-671 mm. Herschel carries a 3.5 m diameter passively cooled Cassegrain telescope, which is the largest of its kind and utilises a novel silicon carbide technology.
The science payload comprises three instruments: two direct detection cameras/medium resolution spectrometers, PACS and SPIRE, and a very high-resolution heterodyne spectrometer, HIFI, whose focal plane units are housed inside a superfluid helium cryostat. Herschel is an observatory facility operated in partnership among ESA, the instrument consortia, and NASA.
The mission lifetime is determined by the cryostat hold time. Nominally approximately 20 000 h will be available for astronomy, 32% is guaranteed time and the remainder is open to the worldwide general astronomical community through a standard competitive proposal procedure.Link to publication